Recently it was my honor to be a moderator at the Syringe Exchange Victory Celebration in the US Capitol. We celebrated that after 21 years, Congress had finally repealed the ban on federal funding of syringe exchange. The celebration recognized leaders in Congress, honored community advocates, and reminded everyone that there is still work to be done to ensure these lifesaving services are fully implemented.The event was really amazing – so many key leaders actually attending to receive their awards in person and speak about the importance of syringe exchange services. Speaker Pelosi (CA) and Representatives David Obey (WI), Jos_ Serrano (NY), Henry Waxman (CA), Barbara Lee (CA),Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), and Mike Castle (DE) joined us to accept their Champion of Public Health awards in person. Representatives Jim Moran (VA) and Steve Cohen (TN) also attended and received certificates of appreciation for their support in lifting the ban. Honoring their dedication and advocacy leadership in the community, awards were also presented to the Harm Reduction Coalition (accepted by Allan Clear) and to Dave Purchase of the North American Syringe Exchange Network.The Celebration was taking place on World Hepatitis Day and I had attended a Hill rally call on Congress to support increased federal funding for viral hepatitis. Lorren Sandt, one of the rally organizers, spoke at the Syringe Exchange Victory Celebration about the importance of syringe exchange in the prevention of hepatitis.
The press release from Rep. Serrano’s office on his receiving awards for his leadership on ending the federal (and local DC) syringe exchange funding ban, includes a link to this YouTube video of his acceptance speech (above). I didn’t know his people were recording, but he’s a real champion on this issue and wanted to share with his district.